Waste management has designs on the future

Manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment with concerns about the forthcoming WEEE Directive should take a leaf out of British Gas's book, as the company is managing the recycling of its waste materials from engineering works on a national basis.

British Gas has subcontracted the collection of all waste material from its works to supply chain management company, Exel, who works to strict environmental requirements in terms of waste management laid down by British Gas. The waste collected includes asbestos, radiators, metals and other hazardous materials. This collection service runs six days a week on a national basis. Currently Exel recycles 70 per cent of what is collected.

In a partnership that goes back to 1995, Exel has developed a service offering for British Gas that is unique within the utilities sector. Managing the supply chain for British Gas waste from collection point to disposal, Exel has been, since 1999, the only supplier providing the company with a nationwide solution. The new contract heralds a further level of service and environmental compliance which have been enhanced following significant investment by Exel in new systems and vehicles.

Waste disposal

The British Gas waste disposal challenge is considerable. Involving a wide range of items, from old radiators and boilers to rubble, metals and hazardous materials such as asbestos, the operation not only demands specialist skills and guaranteed response times but successful working relationships with a number of third parties, including environmental agencies, recycling organisations and landfill site managers.

"Waste management is a critical element in our service to customers, as well as in our increasingly rigorous environmental standards," says Helen Wallace, supplies contracts manager at British Gas. "The decision to renew our contract with Exel naturally reflects our confidence that they appreciate, and can act upon, our approach to customer care as well as to regulatory and environmental issues. Recently, Exel has worked closely with us to improve the service further and there will be a number of very beneficial developments emerging in the next few months." The nerve centre of the operation is Exel's new automated call centre in Sheffield.

Here, the 20-strong team takes calls from both British Gas and contract engineers, schedules collections and plans routes to ensure that loads are effectively consolidated and also directed to the most appropriate disposal centres, maximising recycling potential. Exel's investment in the latest transport planning and routing system, Paragon, now also means that empty running of vehicles has been reduced while back loading opportunities have been increased. In addition, Nortel software has been installed in the centre to measure and enhance performance and productivity.

Recycling targets

"We currently have the most advanced systems for handling utility waste", says Tim Slater, managing director development and specialist sectors at Exel in the UK. "We have been working very closely with British Gas for some time to increase recycling targets and now, after this period of investment and careful strategic preparation, we are able to take several major steps forward. In so doing, we are minimising associated costs and achieving greater visibility of total costs, allowing British Gas to control expenditure more accurately. At the same time, we have together built a platform which will support the operation into the future as it expands and responds to consumer requirements or new legislation."



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